Hackaday Prize Worldwide: Washington DC

Join us for a Meetup on Saturday, September 12th near Washington DC. The Hackaday Crew is headed out to the DC area a week from Saturday and we want to hang out with you. We’ll be hosting a meetup at Nova Labs hackerspace in Reston, Virgina which is on the Northwest side of DC.

We’ll get things rolling at 6pm on Saturday, September 12. The event includes a few lightning talks, some food and drink, and a lot of socializing. This is free to all but you do need to RSVP to let us know you’re coming. We want you to bring a hack to show off. We love to see what people are working on no matter the level of complexity or stage of completion.

Breakout board laid out in KiCAD
Breakout board laid out in KiCAD

This all started when [Anool Mahidharia] mentioned that he’d be at Nova Labs on September 11-13 to lead a KiCAD PCB design workshop. This 2.5 day boot-camp starts with installing the Open Source EDA software on your laptop and ends when you have a completed PCB design ready to be submitted to a board fab. There is a charge for the workshop and attendance is limited so if you’re interested in it you should sign up now. Our events page is a good collection of information on both events as well as directions to get to Nova Labs.

The workshop is being organized by our friend [Bob Coggeshall] who we first met (and interviewed about his work on the Linux ‘sudo’ command) back in 2014 at Bay Area Maker Faire. Since then, [Brian Benchoff] swung by and visited [Bob] to talk about his company Small Batch Assembly and to tour Nova Labs. He will be conducting his own surface mount soldering workshop, will speak about Design For Manufacturing, and will show his Pick and Place machine during the weekend.

It will be fun to visit with [Bob] and to meet everyone who can make it to the Saturday evening meetup. So far  [Mike Szczys], [Brian Benchoff], and [Sophi Kravitz] are all planning to be there. [Anool Mahidharia] will of course be there since he’s leading the workshop. The following weekend [Anool] and [Brian] will both be headed to Philadelphia for the 2015 Open Hardware Summit for which Hackaday is a proud sponsor. [Matt Berggren] and [Amber Cunningham] will both be at OSH as well, talking all things Tindie.

Building a Business Around Generative Design and Marvels of 3D Printing

Generative design is a method of creating something by feeding seed data into an algorithm. It might be hard at first to figure out how someone would build a business around this, but that’s exactly what Nervous System has been doing with great success. The secret is not only in the algorithm, but in how they’re bringing it to life.

Continue reading “Building a Business Around Generative Design and Marvels of 3D Printing”

100 Semifinalists for the 2015 Hackaday Prize

Entries for the 2015 Hackaday Prize — the nine-month design contest that challenges you to build something that matters — closed one week ago today. There were over 900 entries and everyone at Hackaday has been blown away by the different approaches used to solve problems affecting a large number of people, and at the huge body of Open Hardware that has been documented by the process.

Today it is our pleasure to announce the 100 Semifinalists who will move on to the next round. Congratulations to you all on this accomplishment. These designs will continue to be refined as we approach the September 21st deadline where 10 finalists will be chosen by our expert judging panel: Akiba, Pete Dokter, Lenore Edman, Limor Fried, Jack Ganssle, Dave Jones, Heather Knight, Ben Krasnow, Ian Lesnet, Windell Oskay, Micah Scott, and Elecia White. The 10 finalists will go on to compete for the Grand Prize: A Trip into Space or $196,883.

For those who didn’t move on to the Semifinal round, please do not take this as a strike against your work. Don’t stop now, your ideas can still change the world!

Best Product finalists were announced in this post.

Browse the 2015 Semifinalists List or the full list of entries.

Continue reading “100 Semifinalists for the 2015 Hackaday Prize”

Google’s OnHub Goes Toe to Toe with Amazon Echo

Yesterday Google announced preorders for a new device called OnHub. Their marketing, and most of the coverage I’ve seen so far, touts OnHub as a better WiFi router than you are used to including improved signal, ease of setup, and a better system to get your friends onto your AP (using the ultrasonic communication technique we’ve also seen on the Amazon Dash buttons). Why would Google care about this? I don’t think they do, at least not enough to develop and manufacture a $199.99 cylindrical monolith. Nope, this is all about the Internet of Things, as much as it pains me to use the term.

google-onhub-iot-router-thumbOnHub boasts an array of “smart antennas” connected to its various radios. It has the 2.4 and 5 Gigahertz WiFi bands in all the flavors you would expect. The specs also show an AUX Wireless for 802.11 whose purpose is not entirely clear to me but may be the network congestion sensing built into the system (leave a comment if you think otherwise). Rounding out the communications array is support for ZigBee and Bluetooth 4.0.

I have long looked at Google’s acquisition of Nest and assumed that at some point Nest would become the Router for your Internet of Things, collecting data from your exercise equipment and bathroom scale which would then be sold to your health insurance provider so they may adjust your rates. I know, that’s a juicy piece of Orwellian hyperbole but it gets the point across rather quickly. The OnHub is a much more eloquent attempt at the same thing. Some people were turned off by the Nest because it “watches” you to learn your heating preferences. The same issue has arisen with the Amazon Echo which is “always listening”.

Google has foregone those built-in futuristic features and chosen a device to which almost  everyone has already grown accustom: the WiFi router. They promise better WiFi and I’m sure it will deliver. What’s the average age of a home WiFi AP at this point anyway? Any new hardware would be an improvement. Oh, and when you start buying those smart bulbs, fridges, bathroom scales, egg trays, and whatever else it’ll work for them as well.

As far as hacking and home automation, it’s hard to beat the voice-activated commands we’ve seen with Echo lately, like forcing it to control Nest or operate your Roku. Who wants to bet that we’ll see a Google-Now based IoT standalone device quickly following the shipment of OnHub?

Continue reading “Google’s OnHub Goes Toe to Toe with Amazon Echo”

Hackaday Prize Entry Closes But Work Continues

If you’ve been watching the countdown timer you’ve noticed that it’s run its course. The entry window for the 2015 Hackaday Prize is now closed, but that doesn’t mean you can stop what you’ve been doing. As we begin judging this slate of entries, heed my advice and continue working on your project in earnest because the next judging deadline is right around the corner: September 21st at 1:50pm Pacific Time.

For all entries complete the following:

  • A second video of no more than 5 minutes including footage of your prototype in action
  • A total of 8 project logs
  • A nearly complete components list
  • A rendering or drawing of the design/look and feel of the project

Early next week we will announce the 100 projects that move on to the next round. We will also announce which of the Best Product entries will be among the 10 finalists. The Best Product competitors have additional benchmarks to meet:

Best Product Entries must complete the following:

  • A third video between 5-10 minutes in length
  • A total of 12 project logs
  • A compete components list and a bill of materials for one unit
  • Schematics
  • Design Files

Of course the Hackaday Prize is about building something that matters and documenting it as an Open Hardware project. Thank you for sharing your time and talent in preparing your entry. To recognize your effort this year, we’ll be awarding a commemorative T-shirt to all who complete the entry requirements. More information about claiming that shirt will be sent in the coming weeks.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Closing out DEF CON 23

We had a wild time at DEF CON last week. Here’s a look back on everything that happened.

defcon-23-hackday-breakfast-thumbFor us, the festivities closed out with a Hackaday Breakfast Meetup on Sunday morning. Usually we’d find a bar and have people congregate in the evening but there are so many parties at this conference (official and unofficial) that we didn’t want people to have to choose between them. Instead, we made people shake off the hangover and get out of bed in time for the 10:30am event.

We had a great group show up and many of them brought hardware with them. [TrueControl] spilled all the beans about the hardware and software design of this year’s Whiskey Pirate badge. This was by far my favorite unofficial badge of the conference… I made a post covering all the badges I could find over the weekend.

We had about thirty people roll through and many of them stayed for two hours. A big thanks to Supplyframe, Hackaday’s parent company, for picking up the breakfast check and for making trips like this possible for the Hackaday crew.

Hat Hacking

For DEF CON 22 I built a hat that scrolls messages and also serves as a simple WiFi-based crypto game. Log onto the access point and try to load any webpage and you’ll be greeted with the scoreboard shown above. Crack any of the hashes and you can log into the hat, put your name on the scoreboard, and make the hat say anything you want.

Last year only one person hacked the hat, this year there were 7 names on the scoreboard for a total of 22 cracked hashes. Nice work!

  • erich_jjyaco_cpp    16 Accounts
  • UniversityOfAriz     1 Account
  • @badgerops             1 Account
  • conorpp_VT             1 Account
  • C0D3X Pwnd you    1 Account
  • D0ubleN                   1 Account
  • erichahn525_VTe     1 Account

Three of these hackers talked to me, the other four were covert about their hat hacking. The top scorer used a shell script to automate logging-in with the cracked passwords and putting his name on the scoreboard.

I’d really like to change it up next year. Perhaps three hats worn by three people who involves some type of 3-part key to add different challenges to this. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them below, or as comments on the project page.

[Eric Evenchick] on socketCAN

eric-evenchick-socketCAN-defcon-23-croppedOne of the “village” talks that I really enjoyed was from [Eric Evenchick]. He’s been a writer here for a few years, but his serious engineering life is gobbling up more and more of his time — good for him!

You probably remember the CANtact tool he built to bring car hacking into Open Source. Since then he’s been all over the place giving talks about it. This includes Blackhat Asia earlier in the year (here are the slides), and a talk at BlackHat a few days before DEF CON.

This village talk wasn’t the same as those, instead he focused on showing what socketCAN is capable of and how you might use it in your own hacking. This is an open source software suite that is in the Linux repos. It provides a range of tools that let you listen in on CAN packets, record them, and send them out to your own car. It was great to hear [Eric] rattle off examples of when each would be useful.

Our Posts from DEF CON 23

If you missed any of them, here’s our coverage from the conference. We had a blast and are looking forward to seeing everyone there next year!

Your Homework for this Weekend

Your homework for this weekend: Build me something and enter it in The Hackaday Prize. I’m not joking.

It’s very rare for me to come out with a big “ask”, but this is it. I need you now. The Hackaday Prize is our STEAM initiative. It very publicly shows that you can have a lot of fun with engineering in your free time. This is a lesson we need to broadcast and to do so, I want to see dozens of entries come together this weekend.

Here’s the gist of it: Choose a problem that is faced by a large number of people. Build something that helps fix it, and document what you did. You need to start a project, publish 4 project logs, a system design diagram, and a video of less than 2 minutes in length. That’s it, and you can easily be done with all of this if you choose to make this weekend a hackathon.

You may win, you may not. But everyone who posts a project is helping to inspire the next generation of great engineers. The next [Forrest Mims] is out there, lets make sure he or she knows how amazing the world of engineering is! Get to work.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by: